El Faro closes its doors at The Promenade Shopping Center

Pocket's El Faro Taqueria is now another empty store front inside the Promenade Shopping Center. Photo by Monica Stark

Pocket's El Faro Taqueria is now another empty store front inside the Promenade Shopping Center. Photo by Monica Stark

To much disappointment to regular customers of El Faro Taqueria, the longtime Mexican favorite has closed its doors, at least temporarily, in the Promenade Shopping Center, located on the corner of Rush River and Windbridge drives.
As taco lovers came by their favorite neighborhood, they were caught off guard by a sign in the window that thanked them for their patronage, but due to an increase of rent to their lease, they had to shut their doors. But there was a glimmer of hope in the message—they would try to move next door to the location of the old Subway, a smaller, and more likely affordable space. Interestingly, though, the sign was gone by the following day, Tuesday.
Unfortunately, El Faro Taqueria owner Hugo Oliviertos did not return calls as of press time to discuss his established Pocket area business, but it is known that El Faro has deep roots in San Francisco with more than 50 years in business with three locations (435 El Camino Real, 346 Kearny St., 1634 Haight St.) and has been owned by the self-proclaimed creator of the original “Super Burrito”, a traditional burrito with added rice, sour cream and guacamole.
Casey Deeha, a writer for Bay Area Review of Burritos, wrote about Hugo’s ruminations serving Carlos Santana “Super Burritos” in the 1960s in San Francisco’s Mission District.
“Let’s paint the picture,” Deeha writes. “We’re in the Mission; it’s 1961 and the cultural and social renaissance is taking place. Carlos Santana, once a resident of the Mission, has just released a live album and the 68ers have set the backdrop for the ’summer of love’ to pave the way as a future lucrative marketing campaign. Political and cultural dissent is rife in the air and Carlos Santana sits down at a table at El Faro to order what will soon become known to the world as The Super Burrito.
“‘I remember when Carlos Santana used to come in and have a burrito,’ says Hugo; ‘he was like everyone in those days, he had his specific burrito.’ Indeed, at El Faro, since 1961, patrons were choosing among a range of fresh Californian ingredients to create what has now become known as the ‘Mission Style Burrito’. ‘It was a crazy time,’ says Hugo, ‘everyone was coming in and out—there were a lot of people.’”
Fast forward more than 30 years and a change of setting – the Promenade Shopping Center, which touts itself as the one-stop shopping destination in the Pocket, but has 17 businesses that are closed and 19 (which are mostly chains) that are open, including: UPS Store, Hollywood Nails, Tobacco City, GNC, CVS, Rise Yoga, Papa Murphy’s, H&R Block, Eyelusions Optometry, Bel Air, Brite Cleaners, Golden 1, Ocean Sushi, California Sun, Goodwill Donation Express, Curves, Tuesday Morning, Dentist Arthur Burbridge, Fine Wine and Liquor, and Regent Cuisine of China – it’s a much different landscape, yet Hugo brought with him his love of the San Francisco Giants, the 49ers and a tribute to Santana. The brightly colored walls inside the restaurant were highlighted by photographs and posters of times passed.
Clearly, the restaurant leaves a gaping hole within the community.
Neighbor Kent Danielson stopped by El Faro on Tuesday night to check out the scene and discussed with this publication his relationship with the restaurant and his disappointment with the closure of the current location. “Yeah, God, I really like Hugo. I am sad. I just called the number and it said, ‘no longer in service.’ and, I went, ‘what?’ So I just came over.”
Danielson said he had been coming ever since they opened to enjoy the food there. “The food was really good. I am not a big Mexican food person, but my wife is and she really liked it. For Mexican food, it’s really good.”
He said his wife has enjoyed the Mission Street burritos, mojado style, and he would order a Pocket chicken burrito.
Over time, Danielson said as he got to know Hugo over the years. “They have been struggling when the recession hit, like everybody. Business had not been booming, but he seemed to be squeaking by,” he said.
A heating and air conditioning repair technician, Danielson said he would exchange his services for tacos as a result of learning that tenants of the Promenade have to place their own heaters and air conditioners, which he expressed his disapproval of. “I don’t think is right; it’s not going to be yours, it’s going to be the guys that own the shopping center for you to have to replace it. I really like Hugo and I got to know him a little bit and I am sad this happened. I know (the Promenade owners) threatened to raise (El Faro’s) lease. I just think they are greedy and have been asking too much. It’s not booming.”
Neighbors and shopping center tenants have discussed with this publication their disregard for the Promenade Shopping Center owners and the sad state of affairs of losing El Faro (at least temporarily) due to the increase of the rent.
Owned in a trust set up by Millbrae-based Silvestri Foust and Olga, the location of the corporate office, which runs the Promenade, is 1120 Murchinson Dr., Millbrae, and appears as if the business operates inside of a McMansion.
Locals recall a Buckhorn’s, which was in the shopping center for many years as a meeting place for sandwiches and coffee, Mountain Mike’s, the Dollar Store, Ginza Sushi, which location has been occupied by Ocean Sushi more recently, Blockbuster Video, Nathan Michael’s Hair (which moved to Elk Grove), a pet hospital, and a cupcake and yogurt shop.
Especially since she started working at Goodwill Donation Express, one of the businesses in the Promenade Shopping Center, Jon-ai Rice, said she has enjoyed eating at El Faro. “Since I started working here (about a month ago), I went there like every day and then before that, the company I worked for, we’d go there for lunch. I knew the owner, he was really cool. The food was always good,” she said.
Pocket's El Faro Taqueria has longtime San Francisco roots. Shown here is the front of a sister business, located at 1654 Haight St. Photo by Monica Stark

Pocket's El Faro Taqueria has longtime San Francisco roots. Shown here is the front of a sister business, located at 1654 Haight St. Photo by Monica Stark

“I went over there the other day to get some breakfast and their breakfast burritos are amazing. I went over there and opened the door and saw the sign they were closing and I was super bummed out. It was lame, so hopefully they can open back up,” she said. With the taqueria gone, affordable lunch options are limited, so Rice just goes over to Bel Air to get a sandwich. “There’s nothing here (in this shopping center),” she said.
Fine Wine and Liquor owner Chhan Lu said the rent at the shopping center is really expensive and that despite the economy, the property owner ups the rent each year. “They don’t negotiate; it keeps going up,” he said. Asked why he has stayed there for the past 10 years, Lu said moving is expensive due to the tailor made, built-in cooler.
In regards to what he knows about the property owner, he said: “They own a lot of shopping centers; so if they close one down, they don’t care.”
In a posting to the social networking website, NextDoor.com, Joe Conrad from the Pocket area, said he had he been aware of the high rent in the Promenade Shopping Center. He wrote: “I think it’s disgusting that the landlord would prefer empty shops to a thriving local business and economy!! Well, today it went too far. El Faro has closed its doors! Although I’m a fan of other businesses in the center, the only way I know to stick it to the guy who collects the rent in those shops, is to stop giving my money to those shops!! I lived here for nearly three years, and have been in there nearly once a week for each of those years! Hugo is an amazing shop owner, and a great guy! And he doesn’t deserve to be muscled out! I would love some ideas of how to start a revolution and get him back in there!”
In an email interview with this publication, Conrad described that nearly three years ago his wife, son, and he moved in to the Pocket neighborhood from Colorado Springs with the plan of opening Ravenous Cafe with his father-in-law, Wade Sawaya.
He writes: “I was the chef of the small cafe for a few months, but left shortly after to spend more time with my family, and discover a new love in numbers and money. I now work for a small environmental consulting firm as their finance director. It was my during first week with my current employer, Montgomery & Associates, Inc. that I met Hugo and the Pocket Special burrito at El Faro.”
Montgomery & Associates, Inc. is located on the corner of Greenhaven and Windbridge, making El Faro as convenient of a lunch spot for Conrad as they come.
“It was always our go-to spot! Once a week, at the very least, I enjoyed the Pocket Special Burrito that measured just about the size of my forearm. The steak was always cooked to perfection, the guacamole was everything I wanted it to be, and more! It was really an awesome burrito! So awesome in fact that it became the favorite of all of our out-of-town guests,” Conrad said, adding that his sisters could not come from Maryland without first having a Pocket special before their return and that his wife’s sisters would demand El Faro each night for dinner while they were in town from Colorado Springs.
“El Faro had become a part of our life, our routine! Trips to El Faro for visitors were essential, akin to Hollywood for first time Los Angeles visitors, or the Empire State Building for New York tourists. It wasn’t all about that burrito though. It was just as much about the guy behind the counter. I always enjoyed my conversations with Hugo,” Conrad said.
“We talked about the restaurant business. We talked about food cost, and rent. We talked about suppliers, and demanders! I feel we were able to connect on many levels because of my restaurant experience. Coming from someone who was in the business, Hugo is the type of restaurant owner that many should aspire to be. He was the face of El Faro. He was always behind the counter, always busy, but always making my El Faro experience personal. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I realized just how special he was. I thought that maybe I was alone, or part of a small crowd, in my admiration of this jolly restaurateur. Recently I realized that that couldn’t have been further from the truth! I was sitting at the coffee bar at Nugget signing a Valentine’s Day card for my wife. Hugo came in to get a coffee of his own before he headed off to his domain for the rest of the day. It wasn’t just me that shared this connection with Hugo. It was the whole neighborhood! Every single shopper at Nugget that walked past him that day greeted him by name! and he returned their greetings with their first name. It was incredible to see who I thought was just a small business owner, was actually a local home town hero!”

Editor@valcomnews.com

A dynamo Pocket/Greenhaven couple: Sacramento Kings’ top executive gives wife gift of a lifetime

Danea and Phillip Horn

Danea and Phillip Horn

What do you give to the woman of your dreams on your 11th wedding anniversary? Phillip Horn, a Vice President with the Sacramento Kings basketball team, said it was a no-brainer – he’s giving his wife, Danea, a kidney.
This is no ordinary couple. They are both powerhouses from the Pocket/Greenhaven area. Danea’s new book Chronic Resilience was released, August 1 – the same day she learned she was in kidney failure. That grave diagnosis from the doctors didn’t stop her from moving full speed ahead with her arduous West coast book tour, before agreeing to a transplant date of October 1. The scheduled surgery falls just two weeks before both the Kings’ pre-season opener and the couple’s 11th wedding anniversary.
“Traditionally the 11th year anniversary symbol is steel, which symbolizes the strength of marriage,” said Danea. “This generous and unconditional gift from Phillip – at one of the busiest times in his career – creates an emotional bond stronger than anything, including steel, ever could. It’s an amazing thing to do together and I love that we’re a match in so many ways.”
Phillip continues, “I feel so lucky to be a match. It was against the odds. Usually we go to a nice place the first or second week of October to celebrate our anniversary. This time it was from a hospital bed, yet it will likely be the most memorable place of them all. “People are always looking for that gift that money can’t buy and this is definitely one,” Phillip said.
Born with one kidney, Danea has fought VACTERL association – a disorder that affects many body systems, including the kidneys – since birth. By the time she was 2 years old, Danea had survived 10 reconstructive surgeries. It has not been an easy journey. “I’ve managed chronic kidney disease for years,” she said. She kept asking her doctors when there would be a point when her kidneys would be able to function. “I almost had to laugh at timing,” she said. In the matter of a month, functioning rate went down from 15 to 12 to 6 percent.
While there are many unknowns as to the cause of VACTERL association, Danea said one of the best things she’s learned about good kidney health is keeping blood pressure down.
They had to postpone the surgery to Monday, Oct. 7 because of a stomach bug Phillip caught. The two are not nervous about the transplant. “We are just waiting; we’re excited,” Phillip told The Pocket News on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
“It was a pretty good, straight match,” Phillip said. The two are taking it easy now so they are in a good place for recovery.
Said Danea: “I think we’re on for Monday. I think we’re sort of ready. The anticipation sort of builds and builds and builds. I am looking forward to regaining my health. Looking forward to the day to start.”
A young couple, each just 34 years old, the two plan on adopting children in the near future. They actually started the adoption process last year but put that on hold. “It will be something to celebrate at the end of the (recovery).”
Inside their Pocket residence, the couple has the love and support from family and friends to help them get through this time of their lives. “Our moms moved in with us on Sunday and we have lots of other people who are going to come and visit,” Danea said.
Even as her health started plummeting, Danea kept her scheduled appearance as moderator and author at the Capitol Region Women’s Conference on Sept. 27, at the Sacramento Convention Center, just five days before the transplant was first scheduled.
“I was one of the many speakers. The panel I moderated was on ‘Embracing Change.’” To embrace change, she said, you have to let go of something and grasp something else. “A lot of things are not in our control. It takes a lot of trust. My book is about having resilience,” she said.
That message has helped with having to cope with the rescheduled surgery and knowing what they can do to help get through the week in preparation for Monday. “Everybody is resting up and making sure we are healthy. It’s definitely a practice not an, ‘oh I understand.’”
“I titled my book ‘Chronic Resilience’ because I realized that to be the essence of gracefully coping with illness,” said Danea. “Spiritual growth is a ‘side effect’ of chronic illness. Illness is your license to be as deliberate and thoughtful with your time as you want to. Live as you would live at the end of your life right now, today. That is a gift.”
Phillip echoes his wife’s thoughts, “Danea and I have similar philosophies – life is meant to be lived. I don’t want to sit and watch it pass me by. I embrace challenging experiences. When I look back on my life, I know I’m going to be most excited about how resilient I was in overcoming life’s obstacles, versus backing down. Life is meant to grow from, and the more challenges we can take on the more we are going to grow.”
Danea said book sales have been going so well that she’s “bummed” to have to have taken a break.
Phillip, living Danea’s Chapter 3 message of setting attainable, inspiring goals while healing, has his sights set on recovering quickly to be in the building when the Kings take the court for the first time in this season of exciting change for the franchise.
Phillip’s gift of life continues into the Kings’ season. On February 19, in the Kings’ home matchup against the Golden State Warriors, he is spearheading a “Kings Donate Life Night,” in order to help raise awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donors. Fans will be encouraged to sign up to give life through the DMV when getting a license, or online at: www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.
He’s also tremendously excited for the upcoming basketball season, which will be his fourth as VP for the team. “Shaq is a big personality. He’s great for our team.”
The couple has lived in Sacramento for three years. Danea grew up in San Diego and Phillip on the Oregon Coast. “We feel very blessed. It’s such an easy city to live in and we’ve gotten involved in the community more. We love living in the Pocket.”

editor@valcomnews.com

A dynamo Pocket/Greenhaven Couple: Sacramento Kings Top Executive Gives Wife Gift of a Lifetime

donate-life-ca-logo
What do you give to the woman of your dreams on your 11th wedding anniversary? Phillip Horn, a Vice President with the Sacramento Kings basketball team, says it was a no-brainer – he’s giving his wife, Danea, a kidney.

This is no ordinary couple. They are both powerhouses from the Pocket/Greenhaven area. Danea’s new book Chronic Resilience was released, August 1 – the same day she learned she was in kidney failure. That grave diagnosis from the doctors didn’t stop her from moving full speed ahead with her arduous West coast book tour, before agreeing to a transplant date of October 1. The surgery falls just two weeks before both the Kings pre-season opener and the couple’s 11th wedding anniversary.

“Traditionally the 11th year anniversary symbol is steel, which symbolizes the strength of marriage,” says Danea. “This generous and unconditional gift from Phillip – at one of the busiest times in his career – creates an emotional bond stronger than anything, including steel, ever could. It’s an amazing thing to do together and I love that we’re a match in so many ways.”

Phillip continues, “I feel so lucky to be a match. It was against the odds. Usually we go to a nice place the first or second week of October to celebrate our anniversary– this time it will be from a hospital bed, yet it will likely be the most memorable place of them all. People are always looking for that gift that money can’t buy and this is definitely one.”

Danea continues to find remaining energy with her lone-Kidney and plans on keeping her scheduled appearance as moderator and featured author at the upcoming Capitol Region Women’s Conference, featuring Lisa Oz, on September 27th, at the Sacramento Convention Center, just 5 days A dynamo Pocket/Greenhaven Couple: Sacramento Kings Top Executive Gives Wife Gift of a Lifetime

What do you give to the woman of your dreams on your 11th wedding anniversary? Phillip Horn, a Vice President with the Sacramento Kings basketball team, says it was a no-brainer – he’s giving his wife, Danea, a kidney.

This is no ordinary couple. They are both powerhouses from the Pocket/Greenhaven area. Danea’s new book Chronic Resilience was released, August 1 – the same day she learned she was in kidney failure. That grave diagnosis from the doctors didn’t stop her from moving full speed ahead with her arduous West coast book tour, before agreeing to a transplant date of October 1. The surgery falls just two weeks before both the Kings pre-season opener and the couple’s 11th wedding anniversary.

“Traditionally the 11th year anniversary symbol is steel, which symbolizes the strength of marriage,” says Danea. “This generous and unconditional gift from Phillip – at one of the busiest times in his career – creates an emotional bond stronger than anything, including steel, ever could. It’s an amazing thing to do together and I love that we’re a match in so many ways.”

Phillip continues, “I feel so lucky to be a match. It was against the odds. Usually we go to a nice place the first or second week of October to celebrate our anniversary– this time it will be from a hospital bed, yet it will likely be the most memorable place of them all. People are always looking for that gift that money can’t buy and this is definitely one.”

Danea continues to find remaining energy with her lone-Kidney and plans on keeping her scheduled appearance as moderator and featured author at the upcoming Capitol Region Women’s Conference, featuring Lisa Oz, on September 27th, at the Sacramento Convention Center, just 5 days before the transplant. Phillip, living Danea’s Chapter 3 message of setting attainable, inspiring goals while healing, has his sights set on recovering quickly to be in the building when the Kings take the court for the first time in this season of exciting change for the franchise.

Danea has fought VACTERL association – a disorder that affects many body systems, including the kidneys – since birth. By the time she was two years old, Danea had survived 10 reconstructive surgeries. It has not been an easy journey.

“I titled my book ‘Chronic Resilience’ because I realized that to be the essence of gracefully coping with illness,” says Danea. “Spiritual growth is a ‘side effect’ of chronic illness. Illness is your license to be as deliberate and thoughtful with your time as you want to. Live as you would live at the end of your life right now, today. That is a gift.”

Phillip echoes his wife’s thoughts, “Danea and I have similar philosophies – life is meant to be lived. I don’t want to sit and watch it pass me by. I embrace challenging experiences. When I look back on my life, I know I’m going to be most excited about how resilient I was in overcoming life’s obstacles, versus backing down. Life is meant to grow from, and the more challenges we can take on the more we are going to grow.”

Phillip’s gift of life continues into the Kings’ season. On February 19, in the Kings’ home matchup against the Golden State Warriors, he is spearheading a “Kings Donate Life Night,” in order to help raise awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donors. Fans will be encouraged to sign up to give life through the DMV when getting a license, or online at: www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

before the transplant. Phillip, living Danea’s Chapter 3 message of setting attainable, inspiring goals while healing, has his sights set on recovering quickly to be in the building when the Kings take the court for the first time in this season of exciting change for the franchise.

Danea has fought VACTERL association – a disorder that affects many body systems, including the kidneys – since birth. By the time she was two years old, Danea had survived 10 reconstructive surgeries. It has not been an easy journey.

“I titled my book ‘Chronic Resilience’ because I realized that to be the essence of gracefully coping with illness,” says Danea. “Spiritual growth is a ‘side effect’ of chronic illness. Illness is your license to be as deliberate and thoughtful with your time as you want to. Live as you would live at the end of your life right now, today. That is a gift.”

Phillip echoes his wife’s thoughts, “Danea and I have similar philosophies – life is meant to be lived. I don’t want to sit and watch it pass me by. I embrace challenging experiences. When I look back on my life, I know I’m going to be most excited about how resilient I was in overcoming life’s obstacles, versus backing down. Life is meant to grow from, and the more challenges we can take on the more we are going to grow.”

Phillip’s gift of life continues into the Kings’ season. On February 19, in the Kings’ home matchup against the Golden State Warriors, he is spearheading a “Kings Donate Life Night,” in order to help raise awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donors. Fans will be encouraged to sign up to give life through the DMV when getting a license, or online at: www.donateLIFEcalifornia.org.

Pocket Parade 2013

Pocket area resident – WW2 veteran turns 90

World War 2 veteran and Pocket resident Richard Moss will turn 90 years old on March 27.

He will be honored this month with a resolution from the Sacramento City Council, a recognition certificate from Senator Darrell Steinberg and a letter of recognition from Congresswoman Doris Matsui whose office is working with the White House to get one signed by the president.

One could easily write a whole book on Moss’s life. During the past 90 years, he has been as brave during wartimes as he has been an ambassador of peace since then.

Moss was enlisted in the US Army at age 19 to serve in the U.S. Army 86th Infantry, Blackhawk Division which was named after the famous Sauk Indian Chief Black Hawk of Illinois.

Moss completed training at Camp Crowder, Missouri as a signal corp operator charged with insuring communication among the divisions using the first FM backpack radios and other technology. These multi-channel radio broadcasts allowed for increased security and signal boosting that supported and enhanced U.S. military success.

He was active duty in the European Theater Operations arriving in France on March 4, 1945 and then reliving the 86th infantry, Blackhawk division while crossing the Rhine River to Elbelhausen Germany in April. Thereafter, he advanced successfully across German to Oberndorf, Austria and finally assisted the processing of German prisoners of war.

Moss’s service continued with deployment to the Philippine Islands in August 1945. His division was still aboard ship in Leyte Harbor when the Japanese surrendered. The division completed closing efforts in Angeles, north of Manila until his return and honorary discharge in 1946.

Moss received the Good Conduct Medal, and he and his unit were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and the Victory Medal.

Thirty-five years later, he returned to the village of Oberndorf, in peace, and met with the adult children of townspeople he met during the war.

Besides his accomplishments as a war veteran, his professional and community service to the city of Sacramento is unwavering.

Moss began his employment as an auditor with the California State Board of Equalization in June 1948 until his advancement to Chief, of Special Contracts and Provider Standards with the Department of Health Care Services.

He became an unwilling expert in the emerging process of dialysis and
worked long and diligently to develop regulatory criteria and fiscal impact at the state level from 1966 to 1973.

Moss was promoted to Chief, Provider Participation Section, Health Services for the State of California and continued to develop regulations for the safe administration of care and fiscal management of dialysis centers and nursing homes leaving his position to embrace retirement in July 1973.

Moss’s efforts at retirement failed dismally, so he began a tax and accounting practice to further occupy his professional skills until his second retirement in 1986.

During his many years of professional practice he also gave willingly of his time and energy to promote the well being of the community through his involvement in a membership drive for the YMCA, the Boy Scouts of America, Jobs Daughters, the Order of DeMolay and his Masonic Lodge. Richard enjoys spending time with his family, friends, golf and Masonic activities.

His family and friends couldn’t be more proud of him.

Born Richard Levick Moss on March 27, 1923, in Belleville, Illinois, the WW2 veteran married Margaret Schweitzer on July 20, 1946 and they were married for 56 years. They had four daughters: Janet Moss of Boise, Idaho, Elaine Weathersbee who lives in the Pocket, Kathy Garcia who lives in the Pocket and Phyllis Katich who lives in Alameda. He has four grandsons and one great granddaughter. After losing his wife, Margaret, he remarried four years ago to Inez Perrine.

Small But Mighty – Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven Does What it Can to Help and Inspire the Community

President Keiko Wong, speech contest winner Daniel Li, and Treasurer Judy Foote at this year's club level speech contest held on March 7, 2013. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven.

President Keiko Wong, speech contest winner Daniel Li, and Treasurer Judy Foote at this year's club level speech contest held on March 7, 2013. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven.

Now in its sixth year, the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven has been doing what it can to help those at home and abroad with projects such as distributing dictionaries to third graders, launching a high school service club, supporting the Robbie Waters Pocket Greenhaven Library, and even helping to eradicate polio in other countries.

Although their club is small — with currently 14 members — President Keiko Wong says they do the best they can to help. “We are community minded … we try to brainstorm and think what can we do, where would the needs be,” she adds.

Judy Foote — a charter member, past president and current treasurer of the Rotary Club who was recently named Rotarian of the Year for their district — says the club helps meet the education and literacy needs of children in the Pocket area, and she believes by the club being involved in worldwide efforts they can share this information with family friends to make them more aware of what’s going on in other places. “All of a sudden we have a chance to have some concrete information to share with others, and I think it’s a wonderful thing to be able to do that,” she adds.

Helping Out

A number of the Rotary Club’s projects revolve around education and literacy. For instance, one project the Club recently completed on March 7 was the delivery of about 75 dictionaries to third graders at Yav Pem Suab Academy in the Pocket. Wong says this is the third year the Academy’s third graders have received dictionaries. “A lot of times the kids may not even own a book, so this is a wonderful thing for them to have and they get to take it home and it is there’s – we label it and put their name on it,” she explains. “They’re just thrilled to death to receive that.”

Another project of the Club is helping the Friends of the Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library with their book sales. Wong says the next Friends of the Library book sale the Rotary Club will be helping with will be held on March 23.

Foote says the Club helped with book sales early on before the library was built and they were held in the Elks parking lot by helping set up and take down the book sales and sell the books. Now the Club still helps the Friends by working at their large book sales during the year, and helping to keep the book sale storage areas organized. “It’s a wonderful place for us to at least make sure that we have books in the hands of kids,” Foote adds.”

Third graders at Yav Pem Suab Academy enjoy reading the dictionaries donated to them by the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven on March 7, 2013. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven.
RotaryPocket_Pic2

Third graders at Yav Pem Suab Academy enjoy reading the dictionaries donated to them by the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven on March 7, 2013. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven.

However, the Club also has a number of community efforts throughout the year. For example, on April 21 the Club will hold a Rotary Day fundraiser at the River Cats with a portion of tickets going towards helping to end polio, Wong says. Additionally, Wong says the Club provides a number of tickets to a community youth group to attend who may not normally have the opportunity to attend a River Cats game. Last year the Club sponsored a group of 20 high school students to the game. “It was special for them and special for us to give back to the community,” Wong adds.

And on July 25 from 9:30am to 1:30pm, the Club will hold its 2nd Annual Blood Drive with BloodSource. Wong says a mobile unit will be parked at Pacific Business Centers at 1104 Corporate Way next to Greenhaven and South Land Park. Those interested in donating blood can contact Tracy Wilson at 395-4400 to make an appointment.

Supporting the Future

One local student that has become quite involved with the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven is Daniel Li, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School. Since his sophomore year, Li has won Rotary’s annual speech contest on the club level — including just winning this year’s contest on March 7, for which he will compete on the district level in Elk Grove on April 2. Last year Li won both the club and district levels and took second place in the regional speech competition.

Additionally, last year Li was selected by the Club to be sponsored for RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award), which Wong says is a week-long leadership/motivation camp usually in the Tahoe area. “They learn all sorts of leadership skills and get in touch with themselves and learn to take it to the next level,” she explains.

Li says the opportunities he has had through the Rotary Club so far have been “pretty exciting” and allowing him to expand his ideas and express himself in a way he does not normally get to. And he says his RYLA experience was “fascinating” as it was the first leadership camp he ever attended. “(RYLA) provided a really great foundation for me for the rest of my life in terms of leadership and communications and just finding out things for myself,” he says.

Charter members of the new Interact Club at John F. Kennedy High School, which was charted on February 13, 2013 in the Kennedy Little Theater. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven.

Charter members of the new Interact Club at John F. Kennedy High School, which was charted on February 13, 2013 in the Kennedy Little Theater. Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven.

Interact Club

Through RYLA, Li says he was able to meet those that were involved in Rotary’s Interact Club, which is a service club for high schools. “I was very interested in forming one at JFK to provide the foundation for other Kennedy students,” he says.

After returning home with the idea of an Interact Club and getting support from his school, Li and the Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven charted a new Interact Club at John F. Kennedy High School on February 13.

Currently with 50 members, the Interact Club has been busy with a number of fundraisers, including one that helped raise money for polio vaccinations in countries that cannot afford it, as well as a fundraiser through the international disaster relief charity ShelterBox to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Li — who is president of the Interact Club — says they are working on new fundraisers, including selling bento boxes at JFK in May, as well as holding some car washes and helping out with book sales at the Robbie Waters Pocket Greenhaven Library.

Foote says the Rotary Club is very proud of the Interact Club and the fundraising work they have done so far. “Youth of today, they’re so excited and encouraged and they want to act — they don’t want to sit back and listen, they want to do something,” she says. “They’re the leaders of the world, that’s our future, and I think to be cognizant of the needs of the world and helping people instead of fighting people is going to make a huge impact on our world.”

Li says by being part of the Interact Club he has learned there is a need to help, and if he and his peers band together and unify themselves, they have the power and will to make a change. And he also says being involved with the Rotary Club has made a very good first impression and has plans on joining a local chapter in the future. “It is a club that I will definitely join on the college level, and that’s definitely something I’ll want to be a part of for the rest of my life,” he says.

The Rotary Club of Pocket/Greenhaven meets every Thursday morning from 7:30am-8:30am at Aviator’s Restaurant at the Sacramento Executive Airport. For more information, visit pocketgreenhavenrotary.org, or call Keiko Wong at (916) 718-7400.

Del Dayo and Fulton-El Camino Youth soccer clubs draw hundreds of kids to the sport

Many of us played soccer as youths, whether it was because we showed a genuine interest, a particular knack for the game, or (more likely) our parents just wanted us out of the house in the afternoons. Luckily for local children (and parents), there are numerous places in which to partake in the sport these days.

In fact, soccer is by a wide margin the most popular youth sport in Sacramento, according to Shane Singh, president of the Pocket Area’s very own Greenhaven Soccer Club.

The Sacramento Youth Soccer League (SYSL), had an impressive 7,000+ children ages 4-18 play soccer for its numerous clubs in 2012, according to Singh. The SYSL is comprised of 15 soccer clubs within the Greater Sacramento area, some of which cater to our area.

When asked why soccer is the dominant sport in our area, Singh said “It’s designed for younger kids to play. Four-year-olds can’t really play Little League, but they can play soccer.” He also pointed to the fact that soccer entails constant participation, whereas other sports can have long lulls where some kids don’t do anything, which can lead to boredom.

In addition to keeping the sometimes fleeting attention of younger children, Singh talked about the benefits that soccer and youth sports in general have for youths.

“(Sports) keep kids out of trouble. There have been studies that suggest kids who play sports do better in school and are more focused in the classroom. It also helps them to develop life skills, like how to work in a team environment,” he said.

While there are players in most of the SYSL clubs all the way up to 18 years of age, Singh explained that the majority of the players are between ages 6-12. And while he estimates that 90% of soccer seasons within the SYSL run between August and December, the other 10% play a longer season and some of the competitive teams even play year-round.

Singh also estimated that 90% of kids play on strictly recreational soccer teams. If your child is a soccer star who wants to try his hand (or rather feet) at competitive soccer, many of the clubs within the SYSL offer competitive clubs which are generally more expensive, require more travel and often have longer seasons.

August is still a ways off, but registration for some leagues can begin as early as March. Check the end of this article for information about leagues in your area and find out when each club handles registration.

There is rarely a time when children are turned away from participating, but occasionally it does happen if there are too many kids and not enough coaches. Volunteer coaches are much needed, according to Singh.

While not affiliated with the SYSL, the Carmichael-based Del Dayo Soccer Club offers a wide range of teams for your young soccer star. In 2012, Del Dayo soccer fielded 20 teams and more than 350 players. Del Dayo Soccer Club is affiliated with the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA). For information about registration and other inquiries, visit deldayosoccer.net.

In the Arden area, check out Fulton-El Camino Youth Soccer. For information about enrolling your child, visit fecsoccer.org. Also in the Arden area is St. Ignatius Soccer Club. The club can be reached at 916-649-9645.

Caroline Wenzel Students Get Ahead with Reading Partners

A wise man named Dr. Seuss once said, “The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

An organization making sure that children in the Sacramento area have a chance to build the early reading skills they will need for the rest of their lives is Reading Partners – a nonprofit that provides volunteer-led, one-on-one literacy tutoring to students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade in low-income elementary schools.

According to Deanna Berg, Sacramento/Chico regional executive director for Reading Partners, the organization works in local communities to provide early intervention for children who are behind six months to two and-a-half years in reading abilities.

“Statistics show that kids who aren’t reading on grade level by third grade is an indicator for high school drop out rates and their ability to be successful as they move on through their school years,” she explains. “So we really focus on those early years with the belief that if we can catch them in that first part of their education, we’re going to get more impact in the long-run.”

Between the Lines

Reading Partners currently operates 11 programs in the Sacramento area, including two schools in the Arden area – D.W. Babcock Elementary School and Thomas Edison Elementary School – and Caroline Wenzel Elementary School in the Pocket.

Betty von Werlhof, principal of D.W. Babcock Elementary School, says this is the second year they have had the Reading Partners program at the school. She says last year, 33 students took part in the program, and this year they have 29 students enrolled so far. “That list is growing, we’re adding students every month – as we get more tutors, we get more students,” she adds.

According to von Werlhof, Reading Partners is a “wonderful program” and they received “fantastic data” from last year – of the 33 students enrolled in the program 93 percent of students accelerated their rate of learning. “The average gain for every month the child was tutored, they gained two months of reading, so they were doubling their rate of progress while they were being tutored,” von Werlhof says. “It’s really exciting. Programs like this are helping us to get kids up to grade level. Not only do they learn to read, but they can use their reading skills to learn everything else they need to know.”

Over at Caroline Wenzel, Dennalia Harris, onsite coordinator for Reading Partners at the school, says this year the program has 38 students enrolled, however she hopes to hit her 55 enrollment goal by the first week of March. She says the students know they are behind, and through a one-on-one environment students can go at their own pace and see their progress.

“Reading Partners does make a difference — when I did the mid-year review, I saw the difference and it’s amazing,” she explains. “It’s outstanding how much (the students have) grown in just three months. And that’s because of tutors – without tutors we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

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Read All About It

So how does Reading Partners work?

Berg says the program uses volunteer tutors that provide one-on-one tutoring sessions to each child in the program twice a week. Reading Partners uses its own curriculum created and developed by education and literacy experts. There are two tracks — one for beginning readers that focuses on phonics and early reading skills, and a comprehension track for kids who are able to read, but not necessarily comprehending what they’re reading.

Teachers refer students to Reading Partners, Berg says. “When a child is referred to our program, we do an assessment to determine where they are reading, and that places them in the curriculum,” she explains. “They start there and they move through the lessons sequentially, each one builds on the next, so it’s really a highly organized system that’s really effective by our research that we’re doing.”

In addition to the initial assessment, Reading Partners also conducts assessments mid-year and at the end of year. “Our data shows for every month that they receive tutoring in our program, they make 1.6 months worth of gain in readability, so we’re really helping to move them along,” Berg adds.

The Reading Partners’ onsite coordinators at each school also work closely with the teachers and principal to keep them informed of each student’s progress. According to Tina Khatcherian, community builder and onsite coordinator for the Reading Partners program at Babcock Elementary, teachers are given the results of the students’ initial assessments, plus what strategies and goals Reading Partners will be working with. Additionally, she provides progress reports for each student when report cards are due.

“There’s not only written forms of communication, but I sit down and I observe classes in the beginning of the year, and I also find out what things they are studying so that I can do what I can to reiterate what they’re learning in class and support the teachers,” Khatcherian adds.

Helping Hand

To keep a program like this going, a strong set of volunteers is needed. Berg says their goal is to have 750 volunteers in the Sacramento area, which serve 575 children, and their volunteers range from high school students to business professionals to retirees.

Berg says they look for volunteers that are willing to make a commitment to a child for at least one hour a week for one semester, and volunteers do not have to be a literacy expert or credentialed teacher to help out. “The nice thing is our curriculum is really designed to where each lesson has one concept that’s being explored, and it has step-by-step instructions for a tutor to be able to pull out the instruction sheet and be able to teach that lesson following the steps in the packet they’re given,” she explains. Volunteer tutors participate in a new tutor orientation and a shadow session to get started.

Khatcherian says anybody can volunteer, and they provide constant coaching, feedback and ongoing training throughout the year “in order to make that volunteer the best tutor they can be.”

And von Werlhof says the tutors also provide a support for the children, as they are able to form strong relationships with an adult. “It’s just wonderful to see the relationships that the children are forming with these tutors that come, and care about them and support them, not just in the 90 minutes a week — I’ve even heard of tutors going to some of their sporting games and other events in their lives,” she explains. “It’s very heartwarming.”

For sign up to become a volunteer for Reading Partners or learn more about how you can help through financial contributions or children’s book donations, visit  http://readingpartners.org/.

Music Library Helps Pocket Area Teachers and Students Play On

Unless you’re a music teacher at Sacramento City Unified School District, chances are you’ve never heard of the district’s Music Library – considered a “hidden gem” tucked away in Leonardo da Vinci K-8 School in South Land Park.

Started in the 1950s, the library has continued to be a resource for music teachers, housing thousands of pieces of sheet music, both loaning and repairing instruments, and providing music teachers with a place for them to meet and network.

“This is the most wonderful resource,” says Ilda Ballin, who has been music librarian at the SCUSD Music Library since 1986. “I don’t believe there is any resource like this in the state of California.”

Music Maker

The Music Library is known for its vast collection of sheet music. According to Jennifer Nakayama – a music teacher at Leonardo da Vinci K-8 in Land Park, and Rosa Parks Middle School and Fern Bacon Middle School in South Sacramento – library houses music for all abilities from elementary through high school that music teachers can check out to use.

“We have thousands of arrangements here for both band and orchestra, and teachers are able to check out arrangements for their students to try and play,” she explains. “Students have been playing them for years and years.”

Ballin says the various arrangements are for orchestras, bands, and string orchestras, as well as choral music. She says many of the arrangements the library holds are permanently out of print, making them irreplaceable. Additionally, Ballin says music teachers can borrow method books for students.

Keeping track of the thousands of arrangements is quite a task, and it was learning more about the arrangements in the library that drew Nakayama to become a volunteer at the Music Library for the past three years, which just a few months ago became a part-time employment position for her.

“I really enjoy looking through the arrangements, and really enjoy being part of the upkeep and making it still accessible for all of the teachers,” she adds. “It’s really quite a place when you come in.”

Strike Up the Band

Another job of the Music Library is to send out the school’s instruments for repair, and provide loaner instruments for students who need them.

According to Ballin, each school in SCUSD has its own inventory of instruments that students can use.  However, if a school is lacking in a particular instrument, the music teacher can come to the Music Library to see if there is one available for the student to borrow. “We provide so many instruments and usually it suffices for everybody – it’s very seldom that a student goes without playing the instrument of their choice,” she says.

As a music teacher herself, Nakayama has used the instruments available through the library on more than one occasion and feels they are indispensable to making sure all students have an instrument to play. “If a student can’t afford an instrument, then there’s no way for them to be in a class,” she explains. “Most of my students use school instruments – it’s essential for us.”

Then if a school instrument needs to be fixed, music teachers can bring them to the Music Library, who then handles sending them out to various repair technicians, Nakayama says. “We have a repair technician we work with at Kline Music for band instruments, and then there’s a string repair technician as well,” she adds.

Having the Music Library take care instrument repairs has been a big help for George Miles, band director at John F. Kennedy High School in the Pocket. “It’s a really valuable thing,” he explains. “There’s a lot of accounting and dealing with that, dropping it off and picking it up at the repair shop that they handle there that we don’t have to deal with.”

Meet & Greet

And the other major role the SCUSD Music Library plays is one of a central meeting place for district music teachers.

Nakayama says music teachers will meet at the library to collaborate and plan events since they do not see each other throughout the day. “It’s a place where we can let our hair down and work together and really work for the kids,” she explains. “We’ve had some great ideas here over the years. It’s nice to be able to pull (an arrangement) off the shelf, show it to each other, and collaborate in order to make events like that happen.”

Music_Library_3The Music Library is also a place where music teachers can receive further education, according to Gayle Carrick, fine arts training specialist at SCUSD, who says she conducts trainings there for the teachers.

And Miles says having a central place like this to network has helped him further his career during his past 26 years at the district. “(It’s) really a sounding board, able to provide a lot of ideas on how to deal with certain problems that come up in the classroom musically,”  he adds. “It’s just been a really valuable asset for us.”

Up Tempo

As with everything in schools today, the Music Library has also been impacted by budget cuts. Once open five days a week, Miles says, now it is only open two days a week on Monday and Thursday.

And Ballin says due to budget cuts, she has no longer been able to purchase new arrangements for the library, as her limited budget has been going to furnish supplies students need to play their instruments, such as  drumsticks, reeds, mouthpieces, and strings.

So how can the community help support this valuable resource?

Nakayama says they are always looking for donations of both music and instruments, from violins to even pianos. “You would be amazed how many instruments that somebody’s grandfather might have used and sat in a closet for years, somebody found it and brought it to the library,” she says. “If there’s repair work that needs to be done, it’s done and it’s put into use.”

Carrick – who is currently working on grants to find additional funding for the Music Library – says in addition to monetary funds, they are looking for volunteers to help keep the library organized and extend its open hours. “People who have been involved in the music program and have been involved with the music library really have an understanding and attachment to what it represents, and a lot of people have been happy to add their energy to keep it going,” she says.

And Miles hopes the Music Library continues to keep its doors open, as it provides the educational materials, equipment and support music teachers need to be successful in the classroom. “Without it, it would really make it difficult to do our jobs,” he adds.

Faces and places: Polar Bears Take the Plunge at the Greenhaven Cabana Club North

Twenty new polar bears took the plunge into 44 degree water at the Greenhaven Cabana Club North on Saturday, Jan. 26.  Coach Daniel Rodda was on deck to encourage the new “bears” to jump into the water to prove their skills in the wintry pool.  The youngest bear, 7 year old Elsbeth Mar, joined many others ranging in ages up to 42 years.  After a quick swim across the pool, the polar bears made s’mores and warmed up with hot chocolate.  All polar bears were awarded a Certificate of Frigid Accomplishment in becoming one of the 2013 brave bears.  The Greenhaven Cabana Club North is located at 6207 Riverside Blvd.  It will officially open for the season with a much warmer later in May; the season runs through Labor Day. Membership information can be obtained at the website, greenhavencabanaclubnorth.com.